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Even They Fail Once In a While: How Amazon can’t find the product you’re looking for

Professionals in my field want to optimize user experience for our visitors. If you are not working in big Internet companies like Amazon, Netflix or Google you always look at them for an inspiration. They are usually very good examples. But nobody is perfect, indeed.

When you catch some of their failures, then you realize its OK to make mistakes.

You also realize that there is always some room for optimization, there is no limitation whatsoever..

I want to show one good example I caught recently.


I’ve got to admit, this is pretty advanced. I have been using Amazon for more than 9 years and I have witnessed their great improvement with its product search engine over the years. Most e-commerce companies can not even come close to Amazon’s product. But as you can see from this example they can still do more optimization and hence make more money. Let’s see my example.

I started search for “Hemp Seeds” product and I got my search results.

Then I clicked the first result and added this product to my cart. Then category next to the SEARCH button changed from “All” to “Grocery and Gourmet”. No I did not do that and I was not aware of that change during that time.

Ten minutes later I remembered that I also had to buy new headphones as my old ones were almost dying. I went back to my browser and decided to search for “headphones”. This was my result..VOILA!

I did not understand what was going on? No real headphones on Amazon? Or was there a new cool headphone product I was not aware of it..Shame on me..

Apparently Amazon brought me headphone items in the Grocery search category which was not selected by me.

As a customer I was confused , distracted and of course moved onto some other task. We all know famous STEVE KRUG’s motto: Don’t Make me Think. Most of our shopping is impulsive and if something distracts us, we are most likely stop shopping.

This example is a pure user experience failure for an e-commerce site because it actually fails to find what customer is looking for. It is not an user error, since user was not the one who changed the category in the SEARCH.

I am sure Amazon has a good reason to change the category based on search, but as you can see it can fail very bad in some cases.

Happy Optimization

sibel akcekaya

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